Maine (52) vs. UMBC (61) 01/05/19

Game #74 of 353  20% complete

Arriving in Baltimore early morning well before the 1PM UMBC game, I drove to the Inner Harbor to tour the USS Constellation and a submarine the USS Torsk. I highly recommend this diversion because it gives one a true sense of the lack of comfort for sailors on these boats. Besides constantly ducking to avoid beams and the especially tight quarters on the submarine, my destiny back then would not have been in the Navy.

I chatted with a volunteer on the USS Torsk who happened to be fixing a fan but was working in the same area that he worked in back in 1965. He was in charge of some levers that controlled the throttle speed of the submarine. The submarine’s mission back then was to listen in on Russian subs near the Ireland coast. The torpedoes looked impressive and menacing.

I resolved this year to eat more healthy and to being visiting vegan restaurants on my Operation 351 journey.  As I finished touring the boats, the digestive juices did swirl triggering a look for a close by food place. Across the street I saw a Shake Shack calling my name. Another New Year’s resolution goes down the tubes!

So on to basketball….

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Not yet! I like to tour the campus sometimes before a game to get a little exercise. I ran into a dog named True Grit – the mascot of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County Retrievers. Rub his nose and you will get a lifetime of good luck. The model for the statue was a 5 year old Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Nitty Gritty. Although the university chose the name “True Grit” to symbolize the nature of the school, the dog Nitty Gritty did have the honor of pulling off the cloth at the 1987 dedication.

So really on to basketball..

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The UMBC Events Center is a brand new slick arena built last year. As I entered the lobby, I was greeted by a sign proclaiming the event heard around the world. On March 16th, 2018, 16th seeded UMBC defeated #1 Virginia 74-54. It was the first time in history that a sixteen seed defeated a number one seed. In the team fan shop, there are t-shirts and signs proclaiming the win for sale.

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This game was the America East league opener for both teams. UMBC standing overall at 8-7 and Maine at 2-15 were evenly matched in the first half but UMBC pulled away in the second half led by 6′ 10″ UMBC sophomore Brandon Horvath. His combination of three pointers and inside play proved the difference.

The Events Center arena proved to be an ideal place to watch a game. However, I do have one complaint. I am very used to looking at the scoreboard in the center of arena but this new arena did not have one. One has to look over to the side scoreboards or view the televised game up on the side wall. I kept looking up and then looking over to see the score.

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To conclude, I am at the airport in the TSA line. I over hear a gentleman discussing a 20 dollar bill that he found on the belt. The TSA man was reluctant to take it because I am sure there is no procedure on how to handle cash. I looked over and saw a Maine basketball backpack on this gentleman. As I took a closer look, I recognized him to be the head coach of Maine Richard Barron. As we both exited the TSA area, he was walking to the gate with his assistant Edniesha Curry. She is the only women coach for a D-1 men’s basketball program. So I introduced myself to them and told them about my journey. They seemed genuinely interested.  I told them that I was from Connecticut. Barron said that he was good friends with Geno. We said our goodbyes and we went off to our separate gates. I was mad at myself for not asking for a picture. Considering that he just lost a game and some stranger was talking to them while they had a plane to catch, both of them were very nice.

So I had time to catch a bite to eat and headed off to the nearest food place with beer. I am sitting there at the bar but guess who walks in. Yep and this time I was not going to blow it. I went over and asked for a picture. As I gave the camera to Ms. Curry,  Mark Curran said that Edniesha was really the “shining and upcoming star “.  So he asked a bar patron to take  a picture of all three of us.  Mark and Edniesha – I hope you reading this. I really appreciate you taking time to humor this old college basketball nut! Best of luck to you and the Black Bears!

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Next Game: Savannah State at Coppin State 01/05/19

 

 

 

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Binghamton (63) vs Maine (74) 01/30/2016

#29 of 351

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My wife Linda accompanied me on this trip. She is not a college basketball fan but to balance the ying and yang, her attendance at the game was followed by a trip to L.L. Bean and many outlets in Freeport, Maine. She did admit that it was not bad to watch considering that her last attended sports game was a football game in the cold. I have marked out the University of New Hampshire for a weekend trip with her next year.

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This is the first time that I have seen a head of the mascot serve as a portal to the men’s locker area. That is a black bear in case you are wondering. But what was even cooler was this very tall statue of a lumberjack man in front of the arena.

The arena was surprisingly large from what I expected for Maine basketball but it serves also as the hockey rink for the beloved hockey team. Yes Maine is one of the D-1 schools where hockey takes precedence over basketball. It was not a bad crowd for a mild winter day in Bangor.

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I have seen Maine previously this year against UMASS-Lowell. Again, I will sing the praises of Connecticut native Issac Vann. This guy’s athletic ability far surpassed anyone of the floor. I would love to see how he would do in a major conference. He took over in the second half and led his team to victory.

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The public announcer for the game was a woman. This was a first for me. Not that it is  bad thing but it was a surprise.

I do remember watching UCONN play Maine in the old Yankee conference league back in the 60’s. I would not have guessed back then as a kid that I would be here 40 years later watching Maine on their home floor.

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Maine (95) Vs. UMass-Lowell (81) 01/13/2016

#26 of 351

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I had the pleasure of watching both these clubs on TV because they had UCONN as a common opponent this year. It is true that the level of play rises to the level of competition because both clubs played much better against UCONN than against each other today.

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One big advantage of watching games at smaller schools and smaller gyms is that you can sit anywhere. Sitting three rows from the court, you can see the play develop and watch like a basketball coach would. These teams play just as hard as the big boys. You can see the effort and pain on their faces being this close.

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As this was an 11AM start, I expected to see very little folks in the stands. As it turns out, the place had a lot of fans being the recipient of multiple high school groups coming into to watch them. It must have been a school holiday in the Boston area.

I was very impressed with Maine freshman Devine Eke a 6’7″ forward from Plainfield, NJ. He seemed to elevate above all others and had the paint to himself. He played well against UCONN and would probably do very well at a higher level.

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Kudos to the pep band who actually sounded like a band! They were into the game cheering to the end. UMass-Lowell came back and brought it down to 1 point deficit before Maine went crazy with a barrage of three pointers to put the game away.

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So for an off topic moment. I do not like the plush recliner seats that all the theaters are installing for two reasons. One is that they now force the attendee to get there earlier because there are less seats. More importantly, I can NOT stay awake watching a movie in one of these chairs. I went to Chili’s for lunch after the game and had 3 hours to kill before meeting my daughter Kristie ( a grad student at Merrimack) for supper. I spied a Showcase Cinema next door and went into to catch the next available movie. I paid for “The Forest” and went to my reserved seat. I reclined back and before you know it, I  was in never never land. The movie was one of those where stuff pops out at unsuspecting characters eliciting a scream. I would wake up at each of these screams with a “where the hell am I” spasm and would end up scaring the couple next to me more so than the movie scream. After a couple episodes like this, the couple apologized and decided to move elsewhere.  Call me old fashioned but I want the uncomfortable hard theater seats to keep me awake.

Stadium Journey: http://www.stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/costello-athletic-center-s1861

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